Truck Drivers Now Ohio's Most Needed as Demand Accelerates Across USby Jana Ritter - Published: 9/04/2013
Anyone job-hunting in Ohio won't be out of work very long if they looked at the state's number one industry desperately seeking new hires. Transportation and logistics companies throughout Ohio are coping with a dearth of qualified and interested people, especially commercially licensed drivers. In fact, the most advertised occupation on the state's Ohio Trucking Jobs website over the last month was for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, with 8,264 postings – a whopping 31 percent more than the next-closest number of 6.319 jobs for registered nurses.
“It’s a critical situation,” said Dick Hitchcock, vice president of marketing for Thuman Logistics. “It’s a national issue that really affects Ohio.” More specifically, the truck driver demand is in Columbus, which has long been a transportation hub of sorts for its location along interstates 70 and 71 and its drivable access to about half the U.S. population.
Indeed, a number of people in Columbus Business First’s 20 to Know in Logistics feature (which included Hitchcock) cited a worker shortage as one of the industry’s major challenges. The rut took hold during the recession, when transportation companies fell hard, Hitchcock said. And people are slow to come back to a demanding field, especially “soccer moms and dads” who want to see their children and grandchildren more often, he added. “Drivers want to be home overnight,” he said. “Is there a solution right now?
Probably the only one is to pay $80,000 a year.” The current rate is about $60,000 to $65,000, he said.
And, as long foreseen by industry experts, baby boomers are moving toward retirement and that means there is no turnaround on the horizon. “There’s an age factor that’s going to hit us in about two years and make this even worse,” Hitchcock said.
National Public Radio also applied this growing problem across the entire country, reported that the number of truck drivers currently on the road is rapidly shrinking as Baby Boomers retire and the overall demand for truck drivers rises. The trade group American Trucking Association said there are about 3 million truck drivers on the road in the United States today, with about 30,000 more needed. That comes despite the growing demand for drivers, fueled in part by the country's oil and gas sector.
Competition for drivers has also intensified, driving up salaries, with some drivers earning to $100,000 a year, according to NPR. But new federal regulations have also added a whole new problem to mix, limiting the total number of hours a drivers can work to 70 in any seven consecutive days- which effects the earning potential for many. This new HOS rules implemented July 1st are still being argued in hopes they are eventually overturned.